Tuesday, September 22, 2009

SESCC Fair Website Exhibitors

Step right up folks! Experience the Internet! Don't be 'scared! Enjoy a hands-onexperience to explore Rockfordwa.com.

Under the expert guidance of Josh Grandinetti and Andy Coumont, any fears visitors who have never touched a computer, or are leery of surfing the mysterious Internet, will vanish.

Andy and Josh are the two civic-minded teenagers who took on the challenge during the summer to design and create an official Web site for the town. Now they are eager to provide residents a hands-on experience to discover information about their town, via the Internet.

They'll explain how they made it possible for businesses to submit information by clicking links on the web site's Businesses page, where an easy-to-use form is available to create listings. Should anyone experience difficulty with the form, Josh or Andy will assist him or her. Also, any local club and organization that may have been overlooked will be welcome to stop in at the fair booth, or e-mail (webmaster@rockfordwa.com), to be included.

The annual South East Spokane County Community fair opens this year on Sept. 25-27, 2009, at Rockford's fairgrounds and park. This is a first at the fair for an Internet exhibit where visitors will see how information is easily available, activities in town are publicized, and town organizations and businesses are listed conveniently in one location. And how a blog offers up-to-the-minute news about local events.

Andy and Josh, two civic-minded 17-year-olds stepped up to the challenge this summer to design and create an official web site for the town when they met with Mayor Gary Wagner. Using the results of a recent survey of what residents desired on their town's web site, they started working on it in at the start of summer vacation in June. The two dynamic members of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) at Freeman utilized their mutual fascination with computers and cyberspace to revamp (http://www.rockfordwa.com/,) the official web site which had remained undeveloped for three years.

Aware of the serious shortcomings faced by local residents who lack access to high-speed Internet services, the design they chose produces clean, quick downloading on slow dial up Internet connections. It provides community resource information, embellished with pictures. A Google(R) calendar makes it easy to show upcoming events.

Asked how many hours they worked on the web site, the teens estimated close to 100. Not counting travel time. Josh is a life-long resident of Valleyford, and Andy is residing in Spokane Valley this summer. Their dedication to maintain the web site is an added plus, especially since any reported error or request gets immediate attention.

Friends since kindergarten, the two will enter their senior year this fall. Although they're close friends and share some interests, the lads are very different from each other. Sandy-haired Josh is gregarious, outgoing, and plays trumpet, whereas Andy proclaims himself a nerd who prefers intellectual pursuits, esoteric knowledge, and other obscure interests.

While guiding visitors to explore the web site, Andy's techno-fascination will turn into step-by-step, easily followed, instructions. Chat with Josh, and he's likely to grin and talk about the first real web site he created in 2008, Freeman's FBLA web site, (freemanfbla.org,) and tell you about the tricks he learned. Or he'll explain why they chose iPowerWeb.com, a leading web site hosting provider, for Rockford's web site. Besides the unlimited storage space and bandwidth, 25 MyS-Q-L databases, and familiarity with the interface. Josh says the customer support has always been 'awesome.'

Andy takes pride in being reliable and responsible, attributes that landed him the job of setting up technical equipment during community-welcomed events at school assemblies, drama, choir and band concerts. Tall, slender and neatly groomed, he's good with Windows operating systems, the deployment of new software, and installation of hardware. Capable of troubleshooting most computer problems and finding solutions, he's also skilled in setting up remote connections for off-site access to on-site data. Andy and Josh undoubtedly will share how they continue to explore innovative ideas to get public access in the community.

Andy's serious, contemplative nature makes him attuned to the complexities involved. WiFi and multiple access-points in Rockford catch their imaginations. But excitement succumbs to reality, spelled out by Todd Reed, Freeman high school technology director and their computer-mentor. He counsels that each access point would cost about $1,000. Many photographs enhance the web site. Josh is likely to brag about his reticent partner who took them; Andy is also FHS staff photographer. "

The images along the headers of each main page are meant to represent the town of Rockford as a comfortable rural town with a relaxed atmosphere, but with a very active community," Josh says. One of their main goals in demonstrating and helping people at the fair learn to navigate Rockford's web site is to spread awareness of the benefits of the community's newly available media. Both think that as ease of posting local news and opinions on a blog becomes known through classes in the community (tentatively planned for early October), it will become a popular online ' town bulletin board.'

Since both teens view community unity as a vital component of their future happiness, they'll undoubtedly tout the community-unifying aspect of Rockford's web site. Real community, rather than virtual community, ranks uppermost in their values.

Visitors to their exhibit can be sure of being awed and fascinated by these knowledgeable young webmasters. Photographs will dot their booth, including ones that Andy engineered during an interview. In a playful, innovative gesture, he grabbed his camera, directed Josh to hold a laptop computer extended at arm's length, showcasing their web site, while he snapped photographs. Then he exchanged places with Josh, who took pictures while Andy said, "Hurry! It's heavy!"

Both are first place winners in FBLA contests. Northeast Region FBLA Conference & State FBLA conferences in Spokane. Josh's Entrepreneurship team took first in Regional, and scored in the finals in State. His and Andy's Network Design (3-member) team took first place at the Regional conference and fifth in State. (2008-09.) Andy also placed in competitions in Introduction to Business in 2007-08; Network Concepts, Business Presentation (3-member team), and Technology Concepts.

They also took part in the FBLA "Adopt A Highway" litter control, the Business Boot Camp sponsored for Freeman sixth graders, and in the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, "Burgers with a Heart" program, "Freeman Cares 4 Kids" day, and transformed the cafeteria and stage into a haunted house at Halloween. They joined in the trip to Portland, OR, where "we learned a ton at McAfee and UL, and from the Trailblazers game," Josh says.

Shortly before presenting their Rockford web site creation to the town council in July they were hard at work on startup activities in connection with their new business partnership as web site designers, to be announced soon.

Visit their fair booth and let them guide you. Don't be afraid. Browse each link at (http://rockfordwa.com/) and appreciate the wisdom embedded in the services of these two commendable young men.

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